A few years ago, Four Loko was all the rage on college campuses.
The appeal certainly wasn't the chalky flavor that's reminiscent of generic cough syrup, it was the loads of caffeine and other ingredients found in energy drinks added to the malt liquor beverage conveniently packaged in one large can.
Then lawmakers started paying attention to this "Blackout in a Can" and effectively attempted to ban it, promptly the makers of Four Loko to remove caffeine from the drink in 2010 in an attempt to ward off a federal crackdown. But researchers said the drink still remained an especially dangerous intoxicant for young people.
This week, Four Loko's parent company, Phusion, announced it reached an agreement with 20 state attorneys general to scale back its marketing and prevent itself from ever adding caffeine to the alcoholic drinks. The attorneys general accused the makers of marketing the drink to minors, especially at college, and hiring models under 21 to promote their booze.
Phusion denies those charges, but nevertheless agreed to never market the drink on college campuses except at licensed retailers, and to not hire models under the age of 25 or who "appear to be" under the age of 21 to advertise the product.
Jim Sloan, President of Phusion Projects, issued a statement to Consumerist that read in part:
The agreement addresses marketing of Phusion’s products through social media. While consumers have the right to voice their opinions on our social media platforms, we do not want to see our products portrayed in an irresponsible manner. For that reason, we monitor our social media sites to remove unacceptable comments or images and utilize age-gates to ensure we are reaching only adults 21 and over. This is not an easy task because of the constantly evolving nature of social media, but it is one we are committed to and take very seriously.
Phusion went on to note they agreed several years ago to remove caffeine, guarana and taurine for Four Loko, another point which now becomes official. Though, the company said it "continues to believe, however, as do many people throughout the world, that the combination of alcohol and caffeine can be consumed safely and responsibly."